Levi’s finds the right fit with Zendesk call center software

Madeline Bennett Profile picture for user Madeline Bennett July 1, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
Jeans giant is reaping the benefits from self-service and integrated delivery, order, customer data

levi's

For a company that has been effectively selling the same product since 1873, Levi’s clearly knows something about keeping its customers happy. From its original pair of blue jeans – dubbed “stronger pants for working men” – to a clothing range worth $5.8 billion a year, Levi Strauss & Co now runs 3,100 stores, employs 16,600 people and its products are sold in 50,000 locations.

Technology is vital to ensuring Levi’s can meet changing customer demands, and the call center is a key piece. Rob van den Boogaard, Digital Project Manager at Levi Strauss & Co, explains:

No customer wants to call my team because that means something went wrong. But if they contact us, we have to make sure our agents have all the information in the system available to be able to support you, and preferably the first time.

To improve its customer service across Europe, when it moved into a new Spanish call center in 2019, Levi’s rolled out Zendesk contact center software. Prior to the Zendesk rollout, Levi’s was using a different call center in Germany that was running proprietary technology.

Levi’s now has more than 200 agents using a broad range of Zendesk modules across the US and Europe: Support for handling tickets, Explore for reporting, and Guide for self-service and FAQs.

Self-service is an important element in meeting the expectations of today’s customer. Levi’s offers a remorse period so if customers want to amend an online order, for example changing the size, they can log in and make the change themselves before it goes into the delivery cycle, and without having to wait for assistance from customer support.

Levi’s is also using chatbots, which have customer order details available and can answer certain questions. Similar to its telephony requirements, Levi’s is using a different provider for its chat system, conversational platform Hubtype. As the platform is separate from Zendesk, at the end of a chat with an agent, the transcript gets integrated into Zendesk so that Levi’s can capture all the communications in one place. van den Boogaard says: 

If you run a call center organization, you need a more professional chat and talk. I hope that over time, Zendesk will be able to provide a better chat experience because that was the reason why we choose Hubtype. The chat application in a call center should have waiting queues and language queues, and quite often all the different chat applications you can buy and install for almost nothing are only working one on one. That's really a challenge if you would like a scalable solution. We have meetings with Zendesk and our chat provider to verify how we can integrate it or how can we this grow better.

 

Levi’s in Europe selected Zendesk as its US team was already using the technology, meaning it could be set up quickly for the European business. However, the retailer also explored alternatives for its call center system, according to van den Boogaard: 

At the beginning, I also looked at Freshdesk, but the backend API from Freshdesk is limited and the Zendesk API is completely open. If reporting is important for a customer service manager, then you better use Zendesk because you can get everything out.

This is crucial for Levi’s, as it combines all its Zendesk data with order data and various Tableau dashboards to gain more insights and to help marketing and sales make better decisions.

Van den Boogaard named Salesforce Service Cloud as another potential option, but said pricing and talent shortages were an issue.

If you have everything from Salesforce, it could make sense because everything is integrated and that could be a benefit, but the developers are scarce so it's hard to get a timely implementation. For Salesforce developers, the prices multiplied and they're still not available. Even prices in India are rising really fast because there's so much demand from big brands who are putting a roadmap on the table for the coming years and already buying in capacity.

Levi’s started its Zendesk project on 1 October 2019 and went live by the end of November. One of its best features is ease of use for agents, reckons van den Boogaard: 

The feedback I have from agents who used to work in different teams on different technology platforms, they say this is fast, it's easy, it's clean, it's clear.

The Zendesk Sunshine platform, which lets firms connect and understand all customer data wherever it lives, has also been a boon – although van den Boogaard admits he was was initially unconvinced:

The biggest benefit we have from Zendesk is the Sunshine platform. If I compare Zendesk to Microsoft – when they launched SharePoint, we all were figuring out what should we do with it. And later, it become more or less the storage behind Teams and for a lot of things in the Office environment.

“In the beginning, I had the same feeling with Sunshine because it's nice as a web service endpoint, where you could store a lot of data, but the use case was difficult to find.

Following guidance from Zendesk, Levi’s came to understand the potential. Combining its delivery and order data with the information captured from customers means the firm can offer a better service: 

I wanted to have all my orders in Zendesk, so as soon as you contact me, I already have your case created and I have your order in my screen so that I would be more efficient to help and support you. Via the Sunshine integration, our agents do not have to log into a payment platform or a warehouse platform anymore if they would like to get information on your order.

To get there, in a big organization like Levi’s, was a challenge because you need to have the feeds from the different ecosystem in a certain format, and you have your API data limits to consider so the systems don’t become slow. But we managed it and we tested it in Europe. Everything is brought together, it gives instant visibility and this saves around two minutes per ticket.

Van den Boogaard is now supporting Levi’s in the US to get Sunshine implemented. Looking back on the call center project, if he were starting over again, van den Boogaard said he would have rolled out the chat element sooner. Levi’s delayed opening the chat functionality across the different countries, and it has since proved a game changer. He advised starting faster with chat and learning from the queries and comments coming in to build a chatbot:

Otherwise, if you start building a chatbot without knowing the types of questions, you are wasting a lot of money.

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